Q: What do you expect going forward with a new normal? What do you anticipate that new normal looking like?
Kimberly Antifave: I think it will change in the long term. We’ve had discussions internally in town halls about what the new normal will look like when we come back to work. The first part of that is the “when” — we don’t know when that’s going to happen, but what we do know is that it’s not going to look the same as it was before.
We’re not going to have 100% of our workforce physically in the office every day, all day. That’s something my company has already committed to, and I think a lot of the larger banks and other financial institutions have realized that we don’t need all this square footage and we don’t need everyone in the office every day to manage things effectively. What it will actually look like will probably be a happy medium between the both. I think certain people will work from home on certain days. With the technology aspect, I think there’s going to be a greater focus from an audit perspective on things like information security, BCP plans, and even infrastructure. Can you sustain everyone in the company working from home long term? Potentially not, so the infrastructure team will probably need to pivot in that direction, and our audits will need to be updated accordingly.
Q: What has your team’s reaction been to the recent changes, and what are they doing from a development standpoint?
Kimberly Antifave: With people that we don’t have as much contact with anymore, I think it’s very important to keep that dialogue open and just give people an opportunity to chat. Even if we get off topic, you want to build those relationships and keep that dialogue open. I think in this environment, it’s really important to make sure people are all on the same page. If something has changed in the audit plan from a technology perspective, even if I’m not doing a technology audit, it may be integrated with something else I’m doing. If I can’t just talk to someone next door to me, I won’t know that. So we’ve definitely made a conscious effort to continue communication, whether it be setting up weekly meetings or a process with people where we say, “Hey, I’ll probably just reach out to you once a week. Is that fine?”
Q: How are you setting up these meetings and educating the business about internal audit and the value internal audit brings?
Kimberly Antifave: We’re about 600 employees now, but growing very fast. Just a few years ago we split out the second and third lines of defense. We now have separate risk and audit departments, and that’s enabled us to educate the firm on what audit does because the department didn’t exist before. A lot of times we’re going into scoping meetings or planning meetings with auditees that we’ve never audited before, and they’re saying, “Who are you? What do you do?” It’s a perfect opportunity for us to explain what we’re doing, why we’re there, and at the same time, how we can help them and how we can create that partnership. Then it becomes more of a Q&A and an open dialogue from the beginning. I think that’s one thing that’s really helped us, splitting out those departments and initially having that training conversation.
The second thing that has helped us is simply going to company events. You go to a meeting and people say, “Oh, you’re from internal audit” and automatically put you in a dark corner and maybe don’t want to talk to you anymore. Marketing the department can make a big difference, saying, “Why do you have those negative thoughts about us? Because these are some of the things that we can actually help you with.” We can all be an advocate for the department in informal settings, like going to company functions and walking the halls — back when we used to do things like that — have really helped train the business owners that may not have had exposure to us before.
Q: How have you found using technology has helped advance your audit team and your audit efforts? What type of solutions are you incorporating to help benefit not only the audit function, but the business itself?
Kimberly Antifave: I use AuditBoard quite a lot. We started with the SOX module, which was a huge win for us. It was very quick to implement. We had a 200 control set, and we were previously doing everything on Excel. I was part of that implementation, and it went so smoothly and so quickly that I was able to get business owners on the software and using it on a daily basis almost right away — so that was very helpful. We also use OpsAudit to perform all of our audits, and we’re going to be using the RiskOversight platform as well. All of those things have cut down the administrative time by hundreds of hours. I can’t tell you how much time it saved me even just in updating things — I don’t have to anymore because they automatically update.
Secondly, because the owners have access to the system, they have more of an ownership role over their controls. They know where they are, they can go in there and update them if they need to. They don’t have to continually reach out to audit and say, “Hey, can I have your narrative?” or something to that effect. They know that it’s in the system, they can access it and make the updates, and I’m aware of the updates they make. It’s made my job a lot easier from an administrative aspect — and also to loop in external audit because they’re able to view everything with the external audit role-based permissions as well. We’ve really been able to create a lot, the three of us together, due to the ease of things. Knowing people can see everything that’s happening at any point in time, that transparency has also decreased a lot of communication barriers between internal audit and the owners.
Q: You’re talking about stakeholders, and one thing you often hear when implementing technology, especially for audit, is how do we get the stakeholders involved? Did you guys do anything in particular to help get those stakeholders to adopt the solution?
Kimberly Antifave: I do think working for a FinTech company helps because technology is ever changing, and it’s definitely not going away in that environment. I think people understand it and can digest it easier. Also, the way we were doing it before, through email and spreadsheets, wasn’t favorable for anyone. Automatically when we were able to put in the software, the first few times someone got an email, they would ask “Hey, what’s this?” and I’d say, “Just click on that one link and you’ll see.” As soon as they did it, it was so easy and user friendly that it really didn’t take a lot of trying to get people on board — they were already on board. It was very easy to do that, and now we’ve got, I think, 178 owners on the platform even outside of audit because we’ve been sending surveys and certifications as well… AuditBoard really has been something that we haven’t had to spend a lot of time training, since it’s been very intuitive and people have picked it up right away.
Q: What advice would you give to departments that may have not adopted technology or are in the beginning stages of trying to adopt technology?
Kimberly Antifave: I would do it yesterday if I could just because it did save so much time… For me, I think that the easy part was going to the executives with a clear picture in my mind of how it would help us and how it would engage people. It was less of a financial cost situation for us and more of the qualitative factors of the relationships that we can build, the amount of things we can do in the software, like sending out surveys and engaging some of our executive management that before we were engaging in email — and, actually, the security of doing it outside of email.
If every other department around you is implementing some type of technology, and you’re the only ones sitting back, you’re going to be pushed even further in the corner than you were before. I would say, putting the time and effort into it now, even though you think you don’t have the time, will save you so much more time in the future. From a group perspective, being global, we have people in the UK and Asia and also in New York. The transparency within our department increased greatly with AuditBoard. We didn’t have things on shared drives or on people’s desktops, on their computer anymore, where I would have to wait until somebody was in London or if they were already at home and ask them where they had this document or this RCM — it was already there in AuditBoard. I could just shoot them a quick question if I needed to, based on what’s already in the software, or I would get my answer directly by just going into it myself. Within the department, having that communication and transparency, and just being able to look at everything that everyone else is working on in AuditBoard — which I wasn’t able to do before — has been really helpful.
Stay tuned for more AuditTalk video interviews with audit community leaders about industry issues, insights, and experiences!